Higher education institutions in the United Arab Emirates must be recognised by the Commission for Academic Accreditation, which is overseen by the Ministry of Education. Educational institutions based in free zones are not recognised by the ministry and individual emirates are responsible for managing educational standards within their free zones. Students can verify the accreditation status of their institution of choice and find other information on the website of the Ministry of Education at https://www.moe.gov.ae. The UAE has a wide range of universities, both public and private. 95% of all girls and 80% of all boys enrolled in the final year of secondary school apply for admission to a higher education institution. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, more than 77,000 international students studied in the UAE in 2016. A number of international universities have campuses and programmes in the UAE, some of which are housed in special zones such as Dubai Knowledge Village and Academic City. The international institutions with campuses in the country include the Sorbonne and New York University. The country also has a number of Higher Colleges of Technology, which provide education, training and applied technology instruction.
The country’s higher education institutions offer Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programmes. Arabic is the language of instruction though there is a wide range of programmes taught in English. International students are advised to apply to their institution of choice directly. Admissions policies vary by institution but are usually based on the student’s academic qualifications. Students will also be required to provide proof of language proficiency. International students may be required to provide the following: application fee, educational transcripts, copy of passport, certified copy of birth certificate, and passport photographs. Students may also be required to provide additional financial and medical information.
UAE citizens can attend public universities free of charge and the country has one of the world’s highest application participation rates. Tuition fees for international students vary by institution and postgraduate courses are usually notably more expensive. However, most universities offer scholarships that cover a percentage of the tuition fees.
Information for International Students
International students in the UAE may need to apply for a student visa for the duration of their stay in the country. The student must obtain an official admission letter from their university and must also undertake a medical fitness test. They must also have a visa sponsor, either the university itself or a parent of relative, and must also receive the approval of the relevant General Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs. Student visas are usually issued with a one-year validity and can be renewed for a similar period upon presentation of evidence of continued study. International students should note, however, that admission to university does not guarantee that a visa will be issued, as students must meet other requirements.